Slovakian potential encourages Hi-Tech
Hi-Tech Mouldings, part of the Hi-Technology Group, is a world-class moulding facility, located in Waterlooville, UK.
The company specialises in the production of technical moulding and assemblies, and has received ISO 9001 accreditation. A turnover of £10.2 million in the last business year has allowed Hi-Tech to expand and open a facility Hi-Technology Mouldings Slovakia sro in Kosice, Slovakia. This development has been encouraged by a determination to provide products and services for its customers in Europe, attracting business away from Asian competitors. The company believes in training its employees extensively to maintain high levels of service, and seeks to promote expert skill levels in its new Slovakian plant. Acknowledgment of Hi-Tech’s ability has been in the form of consistent recognition by the plastics industry.
Group operations director Richard Brown elaborates on the company’s background: “Hi-Tech will become 25 years old in October 2008. The Hi- Tech Group is a privately owned company, and consists of the following divisions: Hi-Tech Moulding, Hi-Tech Tooling, and Hi-Tech Design. The main sectors the company services are the marine, medical, defence, and health and safety industries.” Over the past year, Hi-Tech has expanded its IT division, which has seen a 27 per cent reduction in raw materials stock; a reduction of delivery lead times from 42 to 28 days; a reduction in lead times from 21 to five days; and an increase in stock turns from 7.5 to 9.9.
This success can be attributed to the emphasis the company puts on training; indeed, over the past year, Hi-Tech has received accreditation as an Investor in People due to the fact that each of its employees spent on average 7.33 days being trained in 2006. Richard expands on this ethos: “The key strength of the business is the workforce: it has a dedicated team, and a lot of the onus of the company is aimed at training. You only get a skilled, determined workforce via investing in training. This has been reflected in the number of awards Hi-Tech Mouldings has won within the industry.”
The awards and accreditations that Hi-Tech has received are indicative of its abilities. Since the conception of the Plastics Industry Awards in 2001, the company has been finalist or winner at every year’s ceremony. In 2007, it was finalist in both ‘Processor of the Year’, as well as ‘Best Training and Development Programme’, maintaining Hi- Tech’s position as one of the top three processing companies in the plastics industry. Richard explains the benefits of these awards: “Recognition as ’Processor of the Year’ means the company gets audited. This is very important, as it allows an independent individual to come in and assess the running of the business, and their independent outlook gives Hi-Tech a fresh insight into the development of the company from a perspective of an individual not necessarily involved day-to-day with our business.”
On 22nd May 2007, the Hi-Tech Group announced the opening of an injection-moulding subsidiary in Kosice, Slovakia. Richard comments on the need for a base in mainland Europe: “Within the moulding sector, a lot of business is relocating to China. Hi-Tech could either ignore this fact, or compete with it, and the company believes that to successfully supply customers, it is advantageous to be based locally, rather than distantly located in China. Hi-Tech aims at transferring knowledge and expertise to the company’s Slovakian facility, where products can be manufactured and exported all over Europe. The Slovakian government, as well as the Economics Development Council and the Slovak Investment and Trade Development Agency (SARIO), supported Hi-Tech’s expansion.”
The company employed Michael Straw as project manager for the Slovakian facility. He takes up the story: “The main challenges that faced the Slovakian development was primarily whether the company wanted to develop a brownfield or greenfield site. A greenfield site takes between 18 months and two-and-a-half years to develop, so the Group decided upon developing a brownfield site. Six months ago, the company found a site in Slovakia that it wanted, and secured its lease. It is currently being refurbished to the company’s plans and specification, coming into operation on the 15th July. Hi-Tech Mouldings wants to replicate the skill level it has in the UK, and the company will work closely with the nearby University of Kosice over the coming years to encourage graduates to work at the facility.”
Richard Brown is keen to emphasise the growth fundamental to the company’s future: “Opening the Slovakian plant will have no impact on the plant in Waterlooville, as it is part of the business’ growth to secure future expansion. Hi-Tech Mouldings believes that through the Slovakian expansion, the technical expertise of the company will develop and be utilised fully within the UK. The company is being encouraged to think outside of the box to meet the demands of its customers – something it will continue to focus on.”
Training is at the heart of Hi-Tech’s operations, and the investment three years ago in a £250,000 ERP system ensures smooth communication and a mutual spread of knowledge between the Slovakian and UK plants. Richard concludes: “The company spends a lot of time training its people, which is seen as a significant financial investment. Hi-Tech Mouldings has a very stable workforce – I can’t praise the employees highly enough.”
Products: Technical moulding and assemblies
Sites: Waterlooville, UK and Kosice, Slovakia